12 April 2021 00:59
12 April 2021 18:33
Cape Angela is the northernmost tip of Africa. And we don’t just know that from Wikipedia. No, we have personally felt the wind blow in our faces on the rocky headland in Tunisia. In the coming months we will explore the continent. As is often the case on our “World Tour”, crossing the Mediterranean was more complicated than expected.
Originally we wanted to spend no more than a week in Italy and then take the first ferry to Tunisia where we would go into quarantine for the prescribed seven days. Then we heard that this rule was soon to be abolished. So we decided to stay in Italy until then.
The archaeological site at Pompeii is not far from Salerno and is a great destination for an excursion. However the lockdown rules are updated every week in Italy’s provinces. And on one particular Monday, the very day we reached Pompeii the whole Campania region was classified as a red area. That meant that all the tourist sights were closed.
At the same time the Lazio region together with Rome, the capital, was still classified as yellow so the shops, restaurants and sights were still open. Plus, from Rome it’s not far to Civitavecchia, where ferries depart for Tunis – Tunisia’s capital city. So it was off to the Eternal City!
We explored Rome for three days until our feet hurt. The city centre was almost empty of people and had a very special atmosphere at sunset. We even treated ourselves to a pizza with a view of the Colosseum. One particular highlight was a tour of the Vatican organised by the chaplain of the Swiss Guard. A friend who was once a member of the Guards had given us his number.
Outside of Rome we explored the Necropolis of Cerveteri which dates back to the Early Iron Age. The tombs are accessible and volunteers are still uncovering new ones. Around 2,000 have already been discovered. As we walked between the rows of tombs, we felt as if we’d landed in an “Indiana Jones” film.
In Civitavecchia we had another Covid test and organised a booster vaccination, plus a valid certificate of health for Aimée. We also made sure we had enough of our old dog’s special food and that the fresh water tanks were full. We set off on Friday evening, heading for Tunis via Palermo. We boarded the ferry at midnight on Saturday.
We have never experienced such chaos at a border. Being foreigners, we had to go into a little hut where passports were strewn across the desk of the official in charge. At some point we were called forward and had to say how long we would be staying in the country, whether we were travelling in a vehicle and how much cash we had with us.
Then came the sticking point: although the seven-day quarantine no longer applied, the official still wanted to see a hotel reservation. And of course we didn’t have one. As was the case for friends of ours, who were able to enter the country without problem a few days before. We had to wait outside for a fax from the ministry. Just before 5.00 a.m. our “verdict” arrived: back to Italy! Just because we didn’t have a reservation. Although we were travelling in a camper van.
Absolute chaos ruled for 15 minutes while other travellers who’d been refused demanded entry. The officials were waiting for their orders. The man responsible for the ferry tried to negotiate for everyone. The discussions were in Arabic, French and Italian. Customs wanted to finish work for the day and the ferry was waiting. In the end the head official sent us and eight other vehicles back.
By the time we came to a stop on the ferry, the mooring ropes had already been untied. Exhausted, we fell into the cabin bed at around 6.00 a.m. After 60 hours on the ferry we were back in Civitavecchia. We drove back to the beach where we had camped prior to the ferry crossing and still couldn’t believe what had happened.
What should we do? If it had been a normal border on land we would have just tried again. But embark on a long ferry crossing again? Initially, we were hardly motivated to do that. However at some point we decided it would be a pity not to try again. So four days later we were back at the port. The loading master recognised us and joked about whether we would be travelling back with him again. But this time we were “armed”: with a whole load of documents and optimism.
This time everything moved a lot quicker after we arrived and an hour later our passports were stamped. But the border officials still didn’t want to make it any easier for us: we had a vehicle inspection, three officials stamped all of the documents, then we had to drive to the guard post to hand in the papers and receive new ones which then had to be stamped several times again. And all that with a very bad feeling.
But let’s not keep you on tenterhooks any longer: in the end we had one piece of stamped paper that gave us permission to leave the port. At 4.00 a.m. Mike turned the key in the ignition of the Axor at the first best parking place. The rest was easy – just 48 hours of self-supervised quarantine and a Covid test. Straight after that we set off to Cape Angela, the northernmost point in Africa.
We’re standing on the headland now – and have just realised that Tunisia is the 50th country we have visited with our own vehicle and Africa is the fifth continent. If you just look at both “4‑Xtremes” tours, we are in the 29th country, on continent number three. We are looking forward to see what Africa has in store for us!
A one-of-a-kind journey.
For eleven months, Andrea and Mike Kammermann were on the “4‑Xtremes” tour with their Axor. Now they are on an even greater adventure. The pair from Switzerland will be on the road for three years and the RoadStars community will again be joining them on the trip! Always be up-to-date and don’t miss any of the breathtaking destinations that our adventurous couple are heading for.
You can find all the parts from the “4-Xtremes – The World Tour” series here.